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Worker at Small Firm Has No Recourse on Demands

Q I am employed as a dental hygienist for a business with fewer than 25 employees. I have worked on a permanent part-time basis for about eight years with a good record of employment and professionalism.

This year and last I have had to take time off periodically to assist a parent who suffered a stroke and to care for my son when he was sick.

Last year, my employer sold the business to a dentist who has demanded that I provide “sick day care” for my son and come to work no matter what or provide the business with a backup employee for that day.

I am paid on an hourly basis and lose my daily salary when I am absent. To help remedy the situation, I have offered to work additional days and time to make up for the hours lost but this has so far been denied.

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Can an employer make these kind of demands on an employee? What about the family leave and medical leave act?

--S.A., Pomona

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A An employer is entitled to make the types of demands that you describe, unless it has singled you out on an impermissible factor such as your sex, age, race, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, medical condition or sexual orientation.

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The family and medical leave laws only cover employees in businesses with 50 or more employees.

If you believe you have been treated less favorably than others on the basis of one of the factors outlined above, you may wish to consider discussing the issue with the personnel department or the individual in charge of personnel.

If you are not successful, you can contact the state antidiscrimination agency--the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing--or the federal agency--the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--at the numbers in your local phone book and explain your situation.

They will be able to assist you in determining whether you have a legitimate claim.

--Diane J. Crumpacker

Management law attorney

Fried, Bird & Crumpacker

If you have a question about an on-the-job situation, please mail it to Shop Talk, Los Angeles Times, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; dictate it to (714) 966-7873, or e-mail it to shoptalk@latimes.com. Include your initials and hometown. The Shop Talk column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice. Recent Shop Talk columns are available at https://www.latimes.com/shoptalk.

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